Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


Date of this Version

Summer 7-21-2011


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Leadership Studies), Under the Supervision of Professor John E. Barbuto, Jr. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2011

Copyright 2011 Michele L. Millard


This multi-level study examined a proposed framework of psychological net worth that builds on the current psychological capital conceptualization of positive psychological assets provided to an organization by articulating the construct of psychological debt or those psychological liabilities in an organization. By describing psychological debt as a collection of negative attributes that occur at the individual level for individuals that hamper productivity, morale, and effectiveness in organizations, this framework of psychological net worth proposes the need to create a psychological balance sheet of psychological capital and debt. Psychological debt is described using the dimension of emotional labor, job insecurity, job stress, job deviance, and stigmatic injustice. It was proposed that while the positive traits of psychological capital (hope, optimism, resilience and self-efficacy) increased positive organizational outcomes (organization commitment, organizational citizenship behaviors, professionalism and subjective-well-being), psychological debt (emotional labor, job deviance, job insecurity, job deviance and stigmatic injustice) brought into the organization by these individuals would diminish those positive organizational outcomes.

Data were collected from 166 third and fourth year medical students and 56 physician mentors in a Midwestern medical school. Students were embedded within 56 mentoring groups with an average group size of 2.41. Beyond simple statistics, a Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) analysis was used to determine within-group and between-group effects. The results revealed several significant relationships between psychological capital and psychological debt individually with organizational outcomes. In addition, there were several significant relationships that emerged as a result of the multi-level modeling, including an interactive effect between psychological capital and psychological debt on organizational outcomes.